Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Kitchen, My World - Ireland

I was so excited to be chosen to pick our country this week for My Kitchen, My World. With the weather getting cold and rainy here in the Pacific Northwest I wanted comfort food so I chose Ireland.

Sean and I traveled through Ireland a few years ago. It was a fantastic holiday! We met new friends, ran into some old friends, saw some amazing history, had some horrible food (does everything have to be fried lol), and had one of the best meals of my life.

We were fortunate to stay at Ballynahinch Castle for one night. We had a beautiful suite that faced the river. I never wanted to leave. I felt like a princess. The night we had dinner in the restaurants is one of my favorite travel memories. The food was spectacular. The service perfect. I had always wanted to drink champagne in a castle so Sean made sure there was a bottle for us. Yeah, he is a good guy.

Not far from the castle is Kylemore Abbey This beautiful castle has been the home to an order of Benedictine nuns since the 1920's.

In honor of Sister Ita who was in her 90's when she died I have made her sultana scone recipe. Can you say yum? Agnes has eating almost 4 of them! Smear them with some double cream, black currant jam, and a cuppa. It is the perfect way to start the day.

4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp sugar
2/3 cup sultanas
1/2 oz mixed candied citrus peel (optional)
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk

Sieve the flour, baking soda, and the salt into a bowl, and rub in the butter. Add the sugar, fruit, and peel, if using. Mix well. Beat the eggs and mix with the milk, reserving a little to brush over the scones. Make a well in the centre of the flour, add the eggs and milk and mix to a soft dough. Turn out on to a floured board and roll out to about 1 inch thick. Cut into rounds, using a 2 1/2 inch fluted cutter. Brush over with some beaten egg. Put on to a greased baking sheet and bake in a preheated hot oven (400°F) for 15-20 minutes. Turn out on to a wire tray to cool.

Here are a few words about Sister Ita from the Kylemore Abbey cookbook~ From the days of the Abbey Guest House of the 1950's to the tour buses of the 1990's and right up to her retirement a few years ago at the age of 90, Sister Ita's scones were legendary in Connemara. She is sadly missed by visitors, drivers, and guides who fondly recall her friendship and warm hospitality.

For dinner last night I made a family favorite Shepherd's Pie. This recipe comes from my favorite pub back The Wynkoop. The Wynkoop holds a very special place in my heart. I met Sean the for the first time 17 years ago at the Wynkoop! I loved working at the pub. I am still friends with people I worked with so long ago and since moving to Vancouver I crave the food. I had a friend get in touch with the original chef to get the recipe for me. The first bite brought back so many memories. Now, if I could only get a pint of Railyard!

Wynkoop Brewing Company's Shepherd's Pie

For the pie crust:
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening (or lard)
2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup ice cold water

For the vegetables:
1 1/2 cups carrots, diced
1 1/2 cups celery, diced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
1 teaspoon paprika (sweet is best)

For the lamb and sauce:
1/4 cup canola oil
2 pounds lamb stew meat (use good-quality lamb for best flavor)
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons shallots, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 quarts beef stock or bouillon
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
4 bay leaves

For shepherd's pie:
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 bunch green onions, chopped
4 to 6 cups mashed potatoes (recipe of your choice)

To make pie crust: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cut the shortening into the sifted flour with a pastry cutter or by using two butter knives. Add the salt and cold water and mix with your hands until mixture comes together. If too dry, add a bit more cold water. Do not over mix. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 1/2 hour or until you are ready to use it.

For the vegetables: In a large heavy skillet or saut?© pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add vegetables and spices and cook until vegetables just turn tender, about 10 minutes. They should still have some "bite" to them. Place in bowl and set aside.

Prepare mashed potatoes, using your own recipe; set aside.

For the lamb and sauce: Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or saucepan until hot.

Season meat with salt and pepper, and then carefully add lamb to oil in pan and brown meat on all sides. Do not crowd meat in pan. Cook in batches if necessary.

When meat is browned, return all meat to pan, reduce heat to medium and add shallots and garlic.

Sprinkle flour slowly over meat while stirring continually to avoid lumps. Once flour is incorporated, cook for 5 minutes, stirring continually and scraping the bottom of the pan to avoid burning.

Slowly add red wine, then stock, stirring and scraping pan sides and bottom. Add tomato paste, rosemary and bay leaves and turn up the heat to bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to one hour or until meat is tender.

Strain meat from sauce and set meat aside to cool. Remove bay leaves. Pour the sauce in a medium saucepan and cover; set aside on a low burner to keep warm. Stir occasionally to keep skin from forming.

To assemble the pie: Spray a 9-by-13-by-2 glass or metal casserole dish with nonstick spray. Spread pastry dough over bottom of dish and up the sides, pressing to make the dough thin and even. Cut off any excess dough at top of dish.

Spread 2 cups of the mashed potatoes evenly across the pie crust. Place half of the lamb meat on top of the potatoes.

Top the lamb meat with all of the vegetable mixture and then add the remaining lamb meat.

Cover the dish with enough mashed potatoes to fill the casserole.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or until casserole has an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

When cooked, remove pie from oven and top with Parmesan cheese and return to oven until cheese is lightly browned.

To serve: Ladle hot lamb sauce into a wide serving bowl and place a serving of pie on top, or place pie on a plate and spoon sauce on top.

Garnish with some chopped green onions, if desired.

This recipe makes a huge amount of food. We will be having Shepherd's Pie for a few nights!!


Elra said...

You are so lucky to stayed in a one truly beautiful castle!
Scones sounds delicious, my husband loves scones. Sadly, I don't always make it for him. Maybe I should make it now for our breakfast. Hmmm

Now, this Shepherd's pie, is my son favorite. Again, I only make it if he request it. Should make this more often. Such a comforting meal! Yours look delicious, Michelle. Thanks for choosing Ireland!

Stephanie said...

Those scones sound wonderful, especially with that currant jam. Yum! Ireland was a great choice.

Natashya said...

A castle and a bottle of champagne. I have got to raise my expectations!
You have made two of my hubby's favourite foods - definitely comfort on a chilly day. Wonderful.

Elra said...

OMG, I have to let you know, that as soon as I visited you this morning, I right away made the scones for our breakfast. It was delicious, though I had to resist the urge to put sultana in it. You know my son really hates anything that has dried fruit in it. Thanks for the recipe, we had a great breakfast!

HoneyB said...

Yum, it all looks so delicious. How great to have been able to visit Ireland. I think it would be a beautiful place to visit.

Thanks for your choice this week - my post isn't up yet, but I found an awesome site with many Irish recipes and I can't wait to try more of them. My dinner is cooking as I type and my home smells so wonderful!

Michelle Dargen said...

Elra - I am so glad you liked the scones. They truly remind me of Ireland. I like putting dried cranberries and walnuts in them. YUM!

Natashya~I am definitely a spoiled girl! LOL

Stephanie~ you should try them with double cream too. Oh so good!

Honeyb~Thanks! I can't wait to see what you are cooking!!